5 Biggest Colleges In The US

You might be excited to attend a big college, but just how big are you thinking? Some colleges have over 40,000 undergraduates, which is literall the size of a small city. These schools can provide great opportunities to students, but they can also be a little overwhelming.

In this article, I‘ll give you a list of the 5 biggest colleges for undergraduates in the US and we’ll also talk about what it‘s really like to be part of such a large college community. 

Why Makes These Colleges So Big?

Most of the biggest colleges are public state universities. These schools are so big because they attract the most students and provide incentives for students who live in the state to attend.

The big schools are located in the most populous states. Thus, California, Texas, and Florida (the three most populous states in the US) are home to many of the schools on this list.

These schools are also huge because they are meccas for academic research and offer a numerous variety of programs to students. They are also located in populous states which means that these universities must cater to diverse groups of people, leading to the creation of more academic options and research facilities which in turn encourage even more students to enroll. 

Public universities also have the resources to grow their campuses and facilities through government support. There are some very large private colleges, but it‘s difficult for them to rival the size of government-funded public universities.  

The college educates us not only through education but also through social interactions. It's where a person spends four crucial years, which may give a new direction to their life. 

Thus, many students are looking for a prestigious college. A prestigious college can shape their careers so that they will be able to live their dream life. Further, we will see the top 5 prestigious universities as per US News college ranking 2021. But before that, we'll see how a college considers as prestigious.

What makes a college prestigious?


The reputation of a college is a significant factor for the college's prestigiousness. The importance of college is through graduates and researches held in the college. 

A college ranking top on sites like US News and World Report gives a lot of college prestige. It’s because US News gives 20% importance to the college's reputation in the ranking. For the college's reputation, US news takes surveys of top college administrators.


Another critical factor is good faculties. Often the reputed colleges can recruit excellent faculties. It includes professors, artists, and researchers who have proven themselves in their fields. 

The ratio of a student in college and the faculties are also one of the most critical factors. The smaller student to faculty ratio, the better it is for students. 


If the school is reputed, the number of applicants for admission will increase. It makes a school more selective, which results in taking more impressive students. Also, the acceptance rate of these schools is less.

The student taken to the University is one with a great resume and very high SAT or ACT scores. The 25th percentile score, average score, and 75th percentile are high if compared.


The ability is to get funding from many sources is often high in reputed colleges compared to others. A consistent income source for colleges is endowments. These are an enormous amount of money from the interest they gather. With a fair amount of funding, the college can spend it on research, students, facilities, etc. 


The prestige of college also depends on the former students. What they are doing in their current life reflects the college's success. The remarkable number of successful alumni will always increase the reputation of the college.


What makes a college Prestigious

The following are the Prestigious Colleges in the USA:

1. Princeton University:

Princeton University is the 2021's most prestigious college in the USA. It is also the US's one of the oldest Universities, founded in 1746. It considers as "one of the most illustrious higher education institutions." Princeton University is also one of the world's best research universities.

When it comes to faculties, Princeton university is famous for its excellent faculties. There are Nobel laureate faculties like Tomas Lindahl, Arthur McDonald, Paul Krugman. There are less than 10,000 students in the college. Plus, the number of faculty compared to students is pretty high.

Two US Presidents, Woodrow Wilson and James Madison are Princeton University graduates. Michelle Obama, Brooke Shields, Jeff Bezos, Pete Conrad, Jimmy Stewart are other notable alumni.

Number of Faculties: 1289

Tenured professorial faculty: 76%

The student to faculty ratio: 5:1

Nobel prize winners: 45

Living alumni: 94000+

Alumni as the US President: 2

Acceptance Rate: 5.5%

2. Harvard University

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the 2nd most prestigious University in America. It's the oldest University in the USA, founded in 1736. It is an Ivy League private school with 48 Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 Nobel Laureates, and 30 Heads of State. Harvard University campus is 5,076 acres, and total undergraduate enrollment is 6755. 

The faculties at Harvard University consist of world-class scholars. These faculties are from all over the world who research and teach. Some faculty members also awarded Nobel Prizes like Martin Karplus and Alvin Roth.

The class size at Harvard University is below 40 on average. In many courses, the class size is 10 or even below that. It gives more opportunities for a student to interact with teachers. 

Eight presidents of the United States graduated from Harvard University. Some of them are John F. Kennedy, John Adams, Franklin D. Roosevelt. There are other notable alumni like Leonard Bernstein, Darren Aronofsky, Michael Crichton.

Number of Faculties: 2,400

Tenured professorial faculty: 41%‍

The student to faculty ratio: 6:1

Nobel Prize winners: 49

Living alumni: 400,000

Alumni as the US President: 8

Acceptance Rate: 4.7%

3. Columbia University

Columbia University, located in New York, is the third most prestigious college in the US. It is a private institution founded in 1754.

Faculties of Columbia University are scholars in their field. In 82.1% of the classes, the class size is less than 20. From 1901, there have been 84 faculties, alumni, staff who won Nobel Prize.

Barack Obama, the USA's 44th president, is Columbia University's most notable alumni. The other notable alumni are Robert Agostinelli, Frank Lusk Babbott, Warren Buffett, etc.

Number of Faculties: 4,371

The Student to Faculty ratio: 6:1

Nobel Prize Winners: 84

Living Alumni: 48,000

Alumni as the US President: 1

Acceptance Rate: 5.9%

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT)

MIT is a coeducational and independent Private Research University. The University is in the Massachusetts city of Cambridge. MIT's mission is to further knowledge and prepare students in science and technology. His motto is "Mens et Manus," meaning "Mind and Hand." 

The University has 96 Nobel Laureates, 59 winners of the National Medal of Science. Also, 29 winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The notable graduates include Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General.

At present, MIT is in five different schools. These are Architecture and Planning, Engineering, Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, Management, and Technology. It is home to roughly 1,000 faculty members and more than 11,000 graduate and graduate students. Current research areas at MIT include digital learning, sustainable energy, big data, etc.

Besides Innovation and Entrepreneurship, MIT also boasts a diverse campus community. 

Number of Faculties: 1,067

The student to faculty ratio: 3:1

Nobel Prize winners: 96

Living alumni: 139,318

Acceptance Rate: 6.7%

5. Yale University

Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut, also ranked fourth, tied with MIT. It's a private university with 6057 undergraduate enrollment and 373 acres of campus. 

International students are 21% of all students in the University. These students represent 120 countries, more from China, Canada, and India. Also, there are 2789 international scholars at University.

Yale's faculties are the one who stands forefront to scholarship, research, and teaching. They have a set of diverse faculties.

Lots of Yale graduates have a notable career in sports, science, art, and politics. Five US presidents have done their graduation from Yale University.  These presidents are Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and William Howard Taft. The other notable alumni are John Kerry, Meryl Streep, and Hillary Clinton.

Yale University is having 65 Nobel Laureates, which includes alumni and faculties. In this, 23 won in economics, which is more than any other subject. University also has 32 Pulitzer prizes.

Number of Faculties: 4,869

The student to faculty ratio: 6:1

Nobel Prize winners: 65

Living alumni: 130,000

Acceptance Rate: 6.3%

Essential Resources for Researching Big Colleges

If you're interested in attending a big school but aren't sure which one is the best choice for you or you are worried about how different it will be from high school, consider checking out the following books: